Nurx offers prescription hydroquinone to treat melasma for $30 per month.
Melasma commonly affects pregnant women, so much so that it’s colloquially called the “mask of pregnancy.” But did you know that there’s another major risk factor that can predispose you to developing this skin disorder? As it turns out, your skin tone can greatly increase your chances of getting melasma.
In Which Skin Types Is Melasma Most Common?
Research has found that melasma is most common in Fitzpatrick skin types IV-VI. The Fitzpatrick skin phototypes are a skin tone scale that note the darkness or lightness of your skin — as well as how likely you are to respond to UV radiation. Type I is the lightest skin, while type VI is the darkest skin. This means that melasma is most common in people with moderately brown to dark brown skin.
Understanding the Fitzpatrick Skin Phototypes
According to the Fitzpatrick scale, there are six types of skin classifications. Fitzpatrick skin type IV is the skin type that burns minimally and gets a tan that’s moderately brown. If you have Fitzpatrick skin type V, you’ll rarely burn. You’ll also get a tan that’s very dark. The darkest skin on the scale is Fitzpatrick skin type VI. You never get sunburned and you’re not very sensitive to UV exposure.
It is still possible for people with Fitzpatrick skin types I-III to develop melasma, especially if you have other risk factors like hormonal changes or sun exposure. However, it’s far less common.
What Are the Ethnicities With the Highest Melasma Rates?
Now that you know more about the skin types that are most at risk for melasma, you can probably identify the specific ethnicities that get it the most. Hispanics (particularly of Caribbean origin), African Americans, and Asians are usually most at risk.
Melasma in Hispanic People
Though many Hispanic people have skin on the lighter side, they can still be at risk for melasma. One study that looked at a Latino population in Dallas found that 8.8% of respondents had melasma currently. What’s more, 4% of respondents had previously had melasma. These rates are higher than the general population.
Melasma in Black People
Though Black people can range greatly in skin tone, melasma seems to affect those with medium dark skin the most — perhaps because the hyperpigmentation spots are easier to see. A study that looked at 2,000 Black dermatology patients found that pigmentation problems (other than vitiligo) were the third most common complaint.
Melasma in Asian People
Asian people with darker skin — such as those from Arab cultures — are more at risk for melasma. Researchers in Detroit sent a questionnaire to an Arab community in the area. Of those surveyed, 14.5% noted they had melasma. Another 56.4% reported alterations in skin tone. While this could be an unrelated condition, it could also be undiagnosed melasma.
How Do Oily or Dry Skin Types Play a Role?
Do you have chronic oily or dry skin? While this can be irksome to deal with, the good news is that it shouldn’t affect your chances of developing melasma. The condition of your skin — whether it’s dry, oily, or somewhere in-between — isn’t linked to melasma.
How Can You Reduce Your Risk of Melasma?
If you’ve just found out that you might be at a higher risk of developing melasma, you don’t have to panic. Having a darker skin tone doesn’t guarantee you’ll get melasma, especially if you take certain precautions.
First and foremost, do whatever you can to limit your UV and visible light exposure. You don’t have to hide away inside, but make sure you always use a strong SPF — tinted if possible to protect against visible light — of at least 30 when you go out. Additionally, try to wear a hat and sunglasses. Scientists have learned that getting too much sun can trigger your melanocytes — the cells in your skin that produce pigment — to become overstimulated. Too much pigment can lead to melasma.
Second, you can add certain serums to your skincare routine. In particular, azelaic acid, vitamin C, and kojic acid are safe, non-prescription creams you can try that can help to keep melasma at bay.
Melasma Treatment for All Skin Types
No matter what skin type you have, if you develop melasma, there are ways to treat it. Commonly, providers will prescribe hydroquinone, tretinoin, azelaic acid, or hydrocortisone. Because these are generally prescription medications, you’ll need a medical provider’s help to access.
Luckily, Nurx makes that easy with fully online telehealth. You can complete a questionnaire online that outlines your skin issues and get your meds delivered straight to your door — no in-person visits required! Learn more about online melasma treatment options today.